I graduated from Temple University in 2017 with a major in Tourism and Hospitality Management. After graduation, I accepted a position with a company and moved to Washington D.C. to work at the Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals (hockey) and Washington Wizards (basketball). I was quickly immersed in the business world as manager of premium clubs and suites, working long event-based hours, managing employees, writing contracts and selling different products.
In 2018, the Capitals were contenders for their first Stanley Cup, and work got increasingly busy. As exhilarating and invigorating as this experience was, I was quickly realizing that this was not a fulfilling career. Yes, it was exciting when I got to see the city come together and win its first Stanley Cup. Yes, it was exciting in the moment when fans were cheering, confetti was streaming down, people were crying, and when I was given my very own Stanley Cup ring from the team. But it wasn’t fulfilling.
I started looking for a new job, one that may feel more “like me.” I stumbled across an opportunity at a hotel in Philadelphia. My job was fun, I got to create relationships with clients, help plan events and create wonderful experiences, but something was still missing. While all of this was going on I was recovering from an injury. That past winter I had a skiing accident and tore my ACL and meniscus, and I had to undergo surgery. The surgery was unsuccessful, and after intense physical therapy, I underwent another surgery seven months later, and another four months after that. During my experience as a patient and seeing my own recovery process unfold, I was inspired and intrigued. I started doing research. I saw both Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) at work and fell in love with the rehabilitation field. I began shadowing, talking to my own physical therapist, interviewing friends in OT school, and decided that OT was the career for me.
While still working at the hotel, I continued shadowing occupational therapists. I also started classes to complete the many missing science-based prerequisite courses that I needed. I researched schools that stood out to me and began filling out my applications. I had a long road ahead of me, and applications were due in a few months. Every night after work I was either in class, studying for the GRE, or shadowing.
In February I got the call from Salus, my top choice, that officials there wanted me to come in for an interview. I was over the moon! I showed up to my interview in a full knee brace and on crutches. The tour guides were wonderful, accommodating, and answered all of my questions. The campus was beautiful, intimate, and charming. I loved the small feel, especially in contrast to the large community at Temple. The staff and faculty who interviewed me were passionate, professional, and full of knowledge. I knew the moment I stepped (crutched) onto this campus that I belonged here.
The biggest draw to Salus is that it took a chance on me. I did not have a science background, my GRE score was average, and I was still taking my last anatomy class so my transcript was incomplete. I told them my story and promised that I would finish my last class in good standing and that I had an unmatchable drive. I received my acceptance letter weeks later.
Fast forward, and now I am in my last didactic semester of OT school. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association and was treasurer of the Student Occupational Therapy Association for four semesters. I am currently president of my class and am a work-study student for two different departments. I also had the opportunity to attend a healthcare service trip to Guatemala over this past summer as the only occupational therapy student, along with nine other Physician Assistant (PA) students from Salus. I have made wonderful, supportive, and caring friends and developed great relationships with my professors. I truly believe that this school is where I was meant to end up.
I am here to tell you that your past does not define your future, that you are capable of whatever you put your mind to. Just because you don’t have a science background does not mean that you cannot be successful in a healthcare graduate program. It is worth it to chase your dreams, no matter how scary the first step or road may seem.
- Robin is a second-year occupational therapy student at Salus University